The Wild Wild Tech: Nintendo Debuts New Network

Nintendo is a company that has become synonymous with video games.

The company has had its ups and downs, but has always remained competitive, and often
dominant, in its industry.

Despite the success experienced by Nintendo with its Wii and DS brands in the past few years, the company has continued to struggle in one area that competitors Microsoft and Sony have not: online gaming.

With the recent announcement of Nintendo’s new plan for an online platform, the Nintendo Network, the company is making a legitimate attempt to challenge its competitors. Although only basic details are available at the moment, they show a change in attitude for the company.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the Nintendo Network is the presence of a unified front for digital consumption across the next generation of Nintendo devices. Both the Nintendo3DS and Wii U are set to use the service when it launches, a much more streamlined approach than the two-pronged separation of handhelds and consoles that we saw with the DS and the Wii.

With the addition of downloadable content, communities for different games, digital distribution of games, and personal accounts, it seems that Nintendo is on the right track. However, they must be careful to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued them in the past.

First and foremost, connecting to people and adding friends must be easier than it is now. The current method of adding “friend codes”, a
series of numbers used to connect you to friends, is far too cumbersome. You should need a username, be able to add people you meet randomly, and an easier way to communicate from player to player.

Next, the new personal accounts should replace the idea of tying content into a device. Right now, games purchased from the Wii Shop Channel and the DSi Shop are tied to the device they are purchased on, not the account of the user. This means that if you lose or break your device, you lose all of those purchased games as well.

If this is not fixed, there will be little hope for their digital distribution plans. If they successfully tie purchases to the individual accounts, Nintendo
can elevate the status of their online game distribution far beyond its current incarnation.

This is an enormous step for Nintendo. They have tried to implement comprehensive online services before (dating back to the NES and Famicom), but none have really takenoff. With the entire industry beginning a trend towards online services and distribution, Nintendo must seize this opportunity to establish itself before it’s too late.

Services like Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Steam, and even startups like OnLive, a cloud-based gaming platform, are all fighting for
a piece of the online gaming pie. Nintendo simply cannot afford to be an also-ran in this race if they hope to remain competitive in the years ahead.With all of that said, I couldn’t be more excited about the Nintendo Network. There’s certainly a high level of competition, but few companies
consistently deliver the way that Nintendo does.

They became known for gaming because of the consistently high quality of their games and hardware, and known for innovation because of how well they delivered on concepts that people didn’t even know they wanted.

They might have a bit of a late start, but I’ll never bet against the company that made a portly Italian plumber
one of the most recognizable figures in the world. If they could do that, they can do just about anything.